Parents of Michigan school shooting suspect arrested after manhunt; past troubles with law emerge

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The parents of the Michigan school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley were apprehended early Saturday morning at a reported commercial building in Detroit after authorities were tipped off to their location.

“Detroit Police Chief James White said the pair appeared to look distressed as they were arrested — but were not armed, and did not resist. White said the building was an art studio and that the two were allowed inside by someone,” Detroit station WJBK reported.

“They didn’t break in. Somebody let them in. We don’t know the relationship yet. That’s active. That person could face charges,” the police chief said.

The parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, have themselves been charged with four counts of involuntarily manslaughter as per a mass shooting that their 15-year-old son allegedly committed last Thursday at a high school in Oxford, which is about 40 miles from downtown Detroit.

While not unprecedented, the decision to charge the Crumbleys is nonetheless rare. It comes amid revelations from Florida station WJXT that both have criminal records from the Jacksonville area.

“Duval County Clerk of Court records show [James] was arrested for DUI in 2005, then driving on a suspended license. That’s a year before Ethan Crumbley was born. In 1995, the father was accused of check fraud,” the station reported Thursday.

“The teen’s mother, Jennifer Sawdon Crumbley, was arrested for DUI on the same day as her husband in 2005 as well as driving with a suspended license and check fraud in 2003. Like her husband’s cases, the charges did not involve guns. They both worked in business development and marketing before moving to Washington state and Michigan.”

The couple’s apprehension early Saturday came after they absconded following Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney Karen McDonald’s unusual decision to publicly announce charges against them before they’d even been arrested.

“Law enforcement officials said that the parents had gone missing on Friday afternoon and that the county’s fugitive-apprehension team, F.B.I. agents and United States Marshals were looking for the couple,” according to The New York Times.

Their lawyers reportedly claimed at the time that it was all a big misunderstanding and that they hadn’t fled — that they’d merely “left town for their own safety and were returning to be arraigned,” as reported by the Times.

This turned out to be false.

“They appeared to be hiding” inside the art studio in Detroit where they were found, according to Sheriff White.

Meanwhile, McDonald is now facing some criticism herself for her decision to publicly announce charges against the Crumbleys before they had even been arrested.

“I just wish this hadn’t happened [and] that we had information earlier that there were going to be charges forthcoming, because we would have been a little more proactive had we been informed,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a “NewsNation Now” interview.

“I’ve been sheriff for 21 years, and I’ve never had anyone have a press conference announcing charges before we had the opportunity to have somebody in custody.”


McDonald was elected Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney after running for the position as a Democrat during the 2020 general election. Her campaign was reportedly endorsed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

In announcing charges against the couple Friday afternoon, she accused Crumbley’s parents of having “contributed to the events on Nov. 30,” citing both their decision to illegally gift their son with a semiautomatic handgun and their decision to encourage his history of bad behavior.

“[The day before the shooting] a teacher at the Oxford High School observed Ethan Crumbley searching ammunition on his cellphone during class and reported the same to school officials. Jennifer Crumbley was contacted via voice mail by school personnel regarding that son’s inappropriate internet search,” she announced.

“School personnel indicate they followed that voice mail up with an email but received no response from either parent. Thereafter, Jennifer Crumbley exchanged text messages about the incident with her son on that day, saying: ‘LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.'”

According to McDonald, they acted even more indifferently when, on the day of the shooting, they were called to their son’s school after his teacher found a note littered with violent imagery, including “a drawing of a semiautomatic handgun, pointing at the words, ‘The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.'”

“In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet, with the following words above that bullet: ‘Blood everywhere.’ Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding. Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, ‘My life is useless.’ And to the right of that are the words, ‘The world is dead.'”

When Crumbley’s parents arrived, they “failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun, which he had with him.”

Worse, they “resisted the idea of their son leaving the school at that time. Instead, James and Jennifer Crumbley left the high school without their son. He was returning to the classroom,” according to McDonald.

Vivek Saxena


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